Each year, Affirmation honors one of its own with the Mortensen Award, an award that recognizes:
Someone who is dedicated to the goals of Affirmation and has worked toward achieving them
Someone who has shown outstanding leadership and service
Someone who is a self-starter and a motivator of others
Someone who is making a difference in the lives of others
The 2015 Mortensen Award was granted to Adrián Sanchez Román, for his work as President of Affirmation Mexico and Coordinator of Latin America. His work included rebooting the Mexico chapter, organizing 2 very successful and well-attended conferences in Mexico, organizing or guiding the organizing of over 20 monthly meetings, including devotionals, Family Home Evenings, service projects, and recreational outings. The service projects included 1) helping unjustly incarcerated transgender individuals by collecting needed hygiene kits for them, 2) working with local LDS Church leaders in Mexico City to host a HIV Prevention and awareness event in a LDS Meetinghouse, and 3) collecting toys and supplies for children with terminal illnesses. He has also organized regional events throughout Mexico in various provinces. In 2015 he helped to organize conferences in Lima, Santiago de Chile, and Buenos Aires. He has created and/or managed numerous social media and online networks for LGBT Mormons, and has built effective relationships with LGBT organizations throughout the Americas, including the Human Rights Campaign. He has been coordinating the Latin American Affirmation groups by providing leadership advice and coaching to the local group leaders.
Other nominees included:
Todd Richardson for his work within Affirmation in the International Leadership Team, as Vice President and as Senior Vice President, helping develop local groups in the US, organizing membership, overseeing various online contact administration, and serving on three international conference committees. He helped organize the Florida regional conference, the Palmyra Retreat, and lead the organization of the first Affirmation conference ever in Europe. He is the 2015 EC Annual International Conference Coordinator.
Kathy Carlston for her service in the International Leadership Team helping in 2014 with conference planning and execution from website design, to production, and MC-ing. She was the cofounder of the Affirmation Podcasts and a principal part of the I’ll Walk With You project. She has served in 2015 as the Executive Committee Vice President. She has helped host the call for Women of Affirmation and has helped to increase the resources for the minority affinity groups in Affirmation.
Colby Goddard for 4 consecutive years of service as the lead for decorating, catering and much more at our Annual International Conferences (Seattle, 2 in Salt Lake, and Provo) and our Leadership/Spiritual Retreats (Nauvoo and Palmyra). It is impossible to have a successful event without Colby. He is the kind of person you can completely trust and never have to worry about how things will turn out. He does everything to the highest levels of quality. His decorating skills have taken our conferences to an entirely new level of professionalism. His energy and love for Affirmation are evident in all he does!
Ellen Koester for her leadership of Affirmation’s presence at Utah Pride in 2014 and 2015, leading or participating in a number of workshops or panels related to being a lesbian Mormon, her vocal advocacy in her ward and stake, helping encourage a meeting in church on LGBT issues. She helped as part of the conference committee in 2014 and was the 2015 Annual International Conference Co-chair.
Anna Empey for her service leading our social media and marketing efforts. She put together a comprehensive marketing plan, and has worked to help us increase our search engine optimization. She is very diplomatically and professionally helped improve the moderation of our Facebook groups during the past few months.
Beth Ellsworth for her service on the International Leadership team and as a member of the Board of Directors. Beth helped organize gathering in Minnesota in the past two years helped organize affinity groups for the Affirmation conference. She traveled to the Latin American conferences to provide support for LGBT Mormons and to help increase the visibility of women in Affirmation, and has consistently advocated for understanding of intersectionality and strengthening underrepresented groups in the leadership
Jamie Dutson for her help during 2015 with the management of the Affirmation website, posting numerous articles and helping to improve the organization of the website and helping to keep it more up-to-date.
Devin Bourne for hosting a monthly Millennial Affirmation Family Home Evening and other gatherings in Utah for almost 2 years, ministering to the needs of the younger generation of Affirmation along the Wasatch Front.
Cesar Carreon for his development and editorial work on the new Spanish-speaking Affirmation website since it went live in mid-2014. He has posted 100s of articles, videos, images, etc. and has helped increase Affirmation’s online presence in the Spanish-speaking world through establishing and managing Twitter, Instagram, and other social media tools. His work has touched the lives of some of the most vulnerable LGBT Mormons in Latin America who have nowhere else to go besides online to read and learn and connect with others. He also serves on the Mexico leadership team and brings a strong grounding to the group there.
Israel Florez for his service as the secretary of Affirmation Mexico, and as the right arm of Affirmation Mexico President Adrian Sanchez Roman. He has supported the planning and execution of conferences, over a dozen monthly gatherings and other activities, and helped manage online groups.
Roxana Lopez for her support of LGBT Mormons in Argentina over 8 years! She has managed the social media and online presence there as well. She has created numerous online resources, especially for women and has answered and corresponded with literally 100s of LGBT Mormons. She spoke at the first ever Affirmation conference in Buenos Aires. She has helped build relationships with local LDS church leaders and with LGBT organizations in her country. She has been a big advocate of helping transgender individuals as well.
Ezequiel Rojas for his leadership in organizing the first Affirmation conference in Argentina, which was held in Buenos Aires this year – from procuring the venue, identifying speakers, and promoting the conference. He has formed a leadership team in Argentina and is now serving as the President of Affirmation Argentina.
Joaquin Bustamente for helping organize the 2015 conference in Chile and helping organize a leadership team there. He is now serving as the President of Affirmation Chile where they have been hosting monthly gatherings for LGBT Mormons and providing online support and resources throughout the country. He has also started to help coordinate support in Ecuador and Bolivia.
Carmen Paz for her service as Vice President of Affirmation Chile and hosting and organizing numerous gatherings and events. She has helped bring more visibility to lesbian Mormons and gave a talk at the Affirmation Chile conference in 2015.
Dario Lopez for helping organize the first ever Affirmation Conference in Peru in 2015. Through his network with non-denominational LGBT support organizations, he has helped increase the awareness of LGBT Mormons and helped find a number of LGBT Mormons who were looking for more LDS-specific support in their journey. He is now serving as the President of Affirmation Peru and has organized a leadership team there and monthly gatherings/events. He attended the Affirmation Mexico 2015 conference and spoke at that event as well.